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Protein Sci. 2010 Aug;19(8):1525-33. doi: 10.1002/pro.431.

The Deinococcus radiodurans Snf2 intein caught in the act: detection of the Class 3 intein signature Block F branched intermediate.

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New England BioLabs, Inc., Ipswich, Massachusetts 01938, USA.


Inteins are the protein equivalent of introns. They are remarkable and robust single turnover enzymes that splice out of precursor proteins during post-translational maturation of the host protein (extein). The Deinococcus radiodurans Snf2 intein is the second member of the recently discovered Class 3 subfamily of inteins to be characterized. Class 3 inteins have a unique sequence signature: (a) they start with residues other than the standard Class 1 Cys, Ser or Thr, (b) have a noncontiguous, centrally located Trp/Cys/Thr triplet, and (c) all but one have Ser or Thr at the start of the C-extein instead of the more common Cys. We previously proposed that Class 3 inteins splice by a variation in the standard intein-mediated protein splicing mechanism that includes a novel initiating step leading to the formation of a previously unrecognized branched intermediate. In this mechanism defined with the Class 3 prototypic Mycobacteriophage Bethlehem DnaB intein, the triplet Cys attacks the peptide bond at the N-terminal splice junction to form the class specific branched intermediate after which the N-extein is transferred to the side chain of the Ser, Thr, or Cys at the C-terminal splice junction to form the standard intein branched intermediate. Analysis of the Deinococcus radiodurans Snf2 intein confirms this splicing mechanism. Moreover, the Class 3 specific Block F branched intermediate was isolated, providing the first direct proof of its existence.

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